Roaring at the Static
After an interminable summer of observing the small screen, I finally found myself excited about something. The only problem is that it didn't happen here. It happened in Oaxaca, Mexico, where a group of 500 or 1,000 women (depending on the source) seized control of their state-run TV station to protest the election of Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. The women not only believe his election was rigged but were also protesting a variety of other issues, including declining resources for their children in public schools, questionable taxation for their children to attend those schools, and other issues that directly impact women and children.
Reading the divergent accounts of what happened with the kitchen brigade the women used pots, pans, and wooden spoons to announce their arrival brought a tear to my eye. What is the equivalent here? Am I just suffering from tube rage, the annoyance that comes from having to watch TV in the heat of summer when I should be sunning at a beach somewhere? Maybe so, and yet I can't help but have a wry reaction to the parallel occurrence on this side of the border: the ascension of Katie Couric as an evening-news anchor. First there was news of her jumping from NBC to CBS: What will she make? Is she worth it? Could Couric save the evening news from its already steady decline into oblivion? Then, came the commentary as to whether Couric had the "gravitas" to deliver the news of the day. The argument being that since she was a morning-news-show gal, would anyone take her seriously? Newscaster Charlie Gibson has also moved from morning to evening newscasts, but that question never surfaced about his credibility.
Still, CBS is pulling out the stops for their anchor apparent. A new theme for the CBS News With Katie Couric is being created in time for the Sept. 5 premiere. Surely, a new set and makeover for Couric are also in store. According to the Drudge Report, the buzz is that there will be a regular feature called "Free Speech," featuring a wide range of Americans speaking in an op-ed fashion on topics of the day. Sounds promising. But my question is, will Couric be relegated to hostess duties in this segment and in the rest of the broadcast, for that matter or will she be allowed to blossom into the newscaster she is to become not a reincarnation of Murrow, Cronkite, or even Rather, but her own woman? If not, maybe this would provide an opportunity to make some noise, not just about what is or isn't happening on the evening news, but also elsewhere on the small screen.
As always, stay tuned.
What Else Is On?
Amid a new e-mail system, a lack of space, and plain old forgetfulness, I've been remiss on throwing out a friendly word for Indie Live Music. Series producer Johnny Ramirez has been so pleasantly and consistently earnest, I finally tuned into his access TV show Thursday night. A little on the raw side with on-air talent who seem incessantly chipper, the show still has a "we're doing it our way" quality that is sometimes refreshing, sometimes cringe-worthy. Although the camera work is static, if you're into the bands filmed and couldn't make their gig when they played in town, tuning into the show gives you a distinct "you are there" feel, minus the drunks and vomit. Best yet, you don't have to watch the show to listen to the music. The lineup for the rest of the month looks promising: the Banneryear, Aug. 10; What Made Milwaukee Famous, Aug. 17; Birdie, Aug. 24; Crash Gallery, Aug. 31; and Brown Out (yow!), Sept. 7.
Indie Live Music airs Thursday nights on access Channel 16 at 10pm.
Speaking of Access
As promised, Public Access Community Television is hosting a weekend-long reunion and free-speech forum they are calling Access the Future. The event takes place at the PACT studios, Scholz Garten, and the historic Victory Grill. Registration is $45 for current PACT producers (with current ID), $75 for all others. The cost covers three meals, conference events, and acknowledges you as a founding contributor of Friends of Access.
For more information, go to reunion.pactaustin.org or call 478-8600 x13.